Every year we have a Christmas party with the theme Polyester & Cheese. Our friends came up with that winning combo years ago at their Christmas party, and we adopted it. Who doesn’t love a party where the pièce de résistance is a table loaded down with cheese? And you have the opportunity to get decked out in totally flammable polyester?
I wanted to take this recipe for a spin before the party – partly because I knew on party night it would be dark and I’d be distracted and might miss my photo opp, and partly because it was Grey Cup Sunday yesterday, which practically screams for cheesy, dippy things. I’m not much (at all) into football, but I’m very much into cheesy, dippy things.
I got my skillet ready, all full of chunks of melty cheese, then topped it with a bam of chopped garlic and a few fresh herbs and a glug of olive oil, and slid it into the oven as friends were arriving. So easy. And is there a better welcome than a panful of warm, gooey cheese? I think not.
This is not fondue in the traditional sense – there is no tossing with flour or pouring in of wine – it’s just melted cheese, and it works. The original is just fontina, but I found myself with a small wheel of herb & tomato brie, and the two got along just fine. That’s the beauty of a fondue – you can toss in whatever meltable chunks of cheese and cheese ends you happen to have in your fridge. This would make a great dinner starter too – just plop the pan down in the middle of the table with a baguette or loaf of crusty bread, and let everyone have their way with it.
Skillet Fontina Fondue
Serve with crusty bread or baguette and apple slices for dipping. Adapted from Barefoot Contessa.
1 lb. (ish) Fontina cheese, rind removed and diced
1/2 lb. (ish) brie or other meltable cheese, rind removed and diced (optional)
4 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
1 tsp. finely chopped fresh thyme leaves
1 tsp. finely chopped fresh rosemary leaves
1/4 cup good-quality olive oil
sea salt & freshly ground black pepper
Preheat the broiler. Distribute the cubes of cheese evenly in a 9-inch cast-iron skillet, or in two smaller ones. Scatter with garlic, thyme, and rosemary and drizzle with olive oil. Sprinkle with salt and pepper and place the pan under the broiler for 5-6 minutes, until the cheese is melted and bubbling and starts to brown.
Serve immediately, with crusty bread for dipping. Serves lots.